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A New Year's baby, actor Willard Robertson grew up in Texas, where he became a successful lawyer. Reportedly he was offered an opportunity to become a federal judge, but he turned it down because of a sudden interest in acting. Since he looked the part of a prosperous attorney, however, Robertson frequently found himself playing a member of the very profession he'd left behind. The actor also showed up as sheriffs, mayors, city councilmen and stern father figures during his quarter-centry film career. While Preston Sturges buffs pinpoint Robertson's flamboyant defense attorney in Remember the Night? (1940) as his best performance, the actor is equally fondly recalled for his portrayal of Jackie Cooper's outwardly stern, inwardly loving father in Skippy (1931) and Sooky (1931). By the mid '40s, Willard Robertson's roles were usually of one scene's duration or less, but he still carried plenty of authority, notably as the sheriff in the grim The Ox-Bow Incident (1943); Robertson's icy remonstration to a lynch mob, "The Lord better have mercy on won't get it from me," still chills the blood after fifty years.

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